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Session 2002- 03
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House of Commons Votes and Proceedings
Monday 20th January 2003

The House met at half-past Two o'clock.

PRAYERS.

1    Regulatory Reform,-Mr Peter Pike reported from the Regulatory Reform Committee the following Resolutions:

    That the draft Regulatory Reform (Credit Unions) Order 2002, which was laid before this House on 16th December, should be approved.

    That the draft Regulatory Reform (Assured Periodic Tenancies) (Rent Increases) Order 2003, which was laid before this House on 13th January, should be approved.

    The Committee came to these Resolutions without a Division.

    That the proposal for the Regulatory Reform (Housing Management Agreements) Order 2003, which was laid before this House on 4th November, in the last Session of Parliament, should be amended before a draft Order is laid before the House.

2    Opposition Day [3rd allotted day],-It being an allotted day at the disposal of the Leader of the Opposition in pursuance of Standing Order No. 14 (Arrangement of public business), the House proceeded to consider Opposition business.

    Winding-up Arrangements for Occupational Pensions,-A Motion was made, and the Question being proposed, That this House expresses its deep concern at current arrangements for winding-up occupational pension schemes, which leave many people receiving much less than expected for their retirement; deplores the lack of action by the Government to address this issue; notes that present workers near to retirement after long service with the employer often receive less than those who retired early after less service; recognises the great urgency of the issue because of the large number of schemes now moving towards wind-up; welcomes the proposals in the National Association of Pension Funds document, Pensions-Plain and Simple, for a possible new schedule of priorities on winding-up a final salary scheme with an insolvent employer; further notes that the Government in its Green Paper, Simplicity, Security and Choice, was prepared to consider such a measure; further notes that there is widespread support in Parliament for such changes; and urges the Government to take early action to address the crisis and speedily to introduce new winding-up priorities which take proper account of the age and length of service of non-retired scheme members-(Mr Oliver Heald);

    An Amendment was proposed to the Question, in line 2, to leave out from the word 'House' to the end of the Question and add the words 'acknowledges the crucial contribution of the UK tradition of occupational pension provision; welcomes the range of measures in the recent Green Paper to strengthen that tradition and to renew the pensions partnership between employers, employees, the financial services industry and Government; supports, in particular, the promotion of occupational pensions as a means to recruit and to retain good staff through the employer task force and other measures; notes the proposal to give employees the right to be consulted on changes to an employer's pension scheme; further notes the Government's consideration of a range of options to bolster member protection in cases where schemes are wound up, including options for a fairer sharing of assets when schemes close, with more priority for workers closer to retirement or those with more years of contributions; believes that there should be 100 per cent. protection in cases of fraud; supports the appointment of a new proactive regulator to investigate fraud and maladministration; further notes the proposed 150-200 million administrative savings which will encourage firms to open new schemes and keep existing schemes running; and further welcomes the establishment of the independent Pension Commission to assess how effectively the current voluntarist approach is developing and to make recommendations to the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions on whether there is a case for moving beyond that approach', instead thereof.-(Mr Ian McCartney.)

    And the Question being put, That the original words stand part of the Question;

    The House divided.

      Tellers for the Ayes, Hugh Robertson, Mr Desmond Swayne: 191.

      Tellers for the Noes, Mr Ivor Caplin, Mr Fraser Kemp: 315.

    So the Question was negatived.

    And the Question, That the proposed words be there added, being put forthwith, pursuant to Standing Order No. 31 (Questions on amendments):-It was agreed to.

    The Deputy Speaker forthwith declared the Main Question, as amended, to be agreed to.

    Resolved, That this House acknowledges the crucial contribution of the UK tradition of occupational pension provision; welcomes the range of measures in the recent Green Paper to strengthen that tradition and to renew the pensions partnership between employers, employees, the financial services industry and Government; supports, in particular, the promotion of occupational pensions as a means to recruit and to retain good staff through the employer task force and other measures; notes the proposal to give employees the right to be consulted on changes to an employer's pension scheme; further notes the Government's consideration of a range of options to bolster member protection in cases where schemes are wound up, including options for a fairer sharing of assets when schemes close, with more priority for workers closer to retirement or those with more years of contributions; believes that there should be 100 per cent. protection in cases of fraud; supports the appointment of a new proactive regulator to investigate fraud and maladministration; further notes the proposed 150-200 million administrative savings which will encourage firms to open new schemes and keep existing schemes running; and further welcomes the establishment of the independent Pension Commission to assess how effectively the current voluntarist approach is developing and to make recommendations to the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions on whether there is a case for moving beyond that approach.

    European Directives on Food Supplements and Herbal Products,-A Motion was made, and the Question being proposed, That this House notes that the Food Supplements Directive includes a list of nutrients and nutrient sources that may be used in supplements and that there are nearly 300 safe nutrient sources on the UK market which are missing from the list; further notes that unless full safety dossiers are submitted for consideration by the European Scientific Committee for Food by July 2005 these nutrients will be illegal; observes that the cost of commissioning research to include within a dossier, and the compilation of such dossiers, makes the task prohibitively expensive and that some 270 safe and popular nutrient sources will be lost to the UK industry and its consumers; and declines to approve the proposed statutory instruments implementing the Directive unless and until the Government secures an amendment to the Directive so as to allow to remain on the national market those products which would otherwise fall outside the Directive's technical restrictions; further notes that the Traditional Herbal Medicinal Products Directive would require dossiers to be submitted to the Medicines Control Agency and would impose costs of tens of thousands of pounds per product on manufacturers; regrets that it would not allow any overseas product which had not been on the European market for 10 years even if it were demonstrably safe; and urges the Government to renegotiate the main provisions of this flawed Directive-(Dr Liam Fox);

    An Amendment was proposed to the Question, in line 2, to leave out from the word 'House' to the end of the Question and add the words 'recognises, in relation to the Food Supplements Directive, the Government's firm commitment to the view that the law should allow safe and properly-labelled food supplements to be freely marketed; welcomes its intention to take advantage of flexibility, secured by the UK, to permit continued use of substances not on the permitted lists where products comply with existing UK food safety legislation; notes that the impact on the long-term availability of products currently on the market will depend upon future developments on maximum limits and lists of permitted nutrients; supports the Government's efforts to press the case for any maximum limits which may be established at EU level to be based on thorough scientific risk assessments; further recognises that the proposed Directive on Traditional Herbal Medicinal Products would introduce regulatory arrangements to set safety and quality standards for unlicensed herbal remedies, and introduce systematic consumer information about the safe use of products and permit companies to make claims; further notes that the proposed Directive is supported by most interest groups, who believe it will protect public health and boost consumer confidence in herbal medicines; further welcomes the progress of the Government in negotiations for more flexibility to take account of valid evidence of traditional use from outside the European Union and to permit herbal nutrient combination remedies; and further welcomes the stated willingness of the Herbal Forum, representing all UK manufacturers' trade associations in the sector, to work with the Medicines Control Agency to minimise regulatory impact, consistent with the need to protect public health', instead thereof.-(Ms Hazel Blears.)

    And the Question being proposed, That the original words stand part of the Question;

    David Maclean rose in his place and claimed to move, That the Question be now put.

    And the Question being put, That the Question be now put:-It was agreed to.

    And the Question being accordingly put;

    The House divided.

      Tellers for the Ayes, Mr Desmond Swayne, Hugh Robertson: 196.

      Tellers for the Noes, Mr John Heppell, Dan Norris: 309.

    So the Question was negatived.

    And the Question, That the proposed words be there added, being put forthwith, pursuant to Standing Order No. 31 (Questions on amendments);

    The House divided.

      Tellers for the Ayes, Mr Nick Ainger, Dan Norris: 347.

      Tellers for the Noes, Hugh Robertson, Mr Desmond Swayne: 151.

    So the Question was agreed to.

    The Speaker forthwith declared the Main Question, as amended, to be agreed to.

    Resolved, That this House recognises, in relation to the Food Supplements Directive, the Government's firm commitment to the view that the law should allow safe and properly-labelled food supplements to be freely marketed; welcomes its intention to take advantage of flexibility, secured by the UK, to permit continued use of substances not on the permitted lists where products comply with existing UK food safety legislation; notes that the impact on the long-term availability of products currently on the market will depend upon future developments on maximum limits and lists of permitted nutrients; supports the Government's efforts to press the case for any maximum limits which may be established at EU level to be based on thorough scientific risk assessments; further recognises that the proposed Directive on Traditional Herbal Medicinal Products would introduce regulatory arrangements to set safety and quality standards for unlicensed herbal remedies, and introduce systematic consumer information about the safe use of products and permit companies to make claims; further notes that the proposed Directive is supported by most interest groups, who believe it will protect public health and boost consumer confidence in herbal medicines; further welcomes the progress of the Government in negotiations for more flexibility to take account of valid evidence of traditional use from outside the European Union and to permit herbal nutrient combination remedies; and further welcomes the stated willingness of the Herbal Forum, representing all UK manufacturers' trade associations in the sector, to work with the Medicines Control Agency to minimise regulatory impact, consistent with the need to protect public health.

3    Dioxins, Furans and Polychlorinated Biphenyls,-A Motion was made, and the Question being put forthwith, pursuant to Standing Order No. 119 (European Standing Committees), That this House takes note of European Union Document No. 13438/01, Commission Communication on a Community strategy for dioxins, furans and polychlorinated biphenyls; and supports the Government's objective that effective and proportionate measures are taken across the European Union in order to reduce emissions of, and exposure to, these substances, and to meet national, other regional and global commitments-(Gillian Merron):-It was agreed to.

4    Public Petitions,-Public Petitions from-

    (1) residents of the city of Sunderland for greater control over the purchase and use of air guns, and

    (2) 'Consumers for Health Choice' and others against restrictions on the availability of natural health products

    were presented and read; and ordered to lie upon the Table and to be printed.

5    Adjournment,-Resolved, That this House do now adjourn.-(Gillian Merron.)

    And accordingly the House, having continued to sit till two minutes to Eleven o'clock, adjourned till to-morrow.

[Adjourned at 10.58 p.m.

Michael J. Martin
Speaker


Mr Speaker will take the Chair at half-past Eleven o'clock.


APPENDIX I

Papers presented or laid upon the Table:

Papers delivered to the Votes and Proceedings Office on Friday 17th January 2003 (Non-sitting Friday, S.O. No. 12) pursuant to Standing Order No. 159 (Presentation of statutory instruments):

Papers subject to Negative Resolution:

1    Health Care and Associated Professions,-National Health Service Reform and Health Care Professions Act 2002 (Isles of Scilly) Order 2003 (S.I., 2003, No. 50), dated 14th January 2003 [Mr Secretary Milburn].

2    National Health Service,-Health and Social Care Act 2001 (Isles of Scilly) Order 2003 (S.I., 2003, No. 49), dated 14th January 2003 [Mr Secretary Milburn].

Papers presented or laid upon the Table on Monday 20th January 2003:

Papers subject to Affirmative Resolution:

3    Employment and Training,-(1) Draft Industrial Training Levy (Construction Board) Order 2003, and

    (2) draft Industrial Training Levy (Engineering Construction Board) Order 2003

    [by Act] [Mr Secretary Clarke].

4    Northern Ireland,-(1) Draft Housing (Northern Ireland) Order 2003, and

    (2) draft Northern Ireland Arms Decommissioning Act 1997 (Amnesty Period) Order 2003

    [by Act], with Explanatory Memoranda thereon [by Command] [Mr Secretary Murphy].

Papers subject to Negative Resolution:

5    Social Security,-Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit (General) Amendment Regulations 2003 (S.I., 2003, No. 48), dated 12th January 2003 [by Act] [Mr Secretary Smith].

Other Papers:

6    Animals in Scientific Procedures,-Government Reply to the Report of the House of Lords Select Committee on Animals in Scientific Procedures, Session 2001-02 [by Command] [Cm. 5729] [Mr Secretary Blunkett].

7    Chiropractors,-Financial Statements of the General Chiropractic Council for the year ended 31st July 2002 [by Act] [Mr Robin Cook].

8    National Audit,-Report by the Comptroller and Auditor General on Reaping the Rewards of Agricultural Research [by Act]; to be printed [No. 300] [Clerk of the House].

9    School Standards and Framework,-Accounts of the-

    (1) Bedford Education Action Zone for 2001-02,

    (2) Blackburn with Darwen Education Action Zone for 2001-02,

    (3) Derby North East Education Action Zone for 2001-02,

    (4) Downham & Bellingham Education Action Zone for 2001-02,

    (5) Gloucester Education Action Zone for 2000-01,

    (6) Gloucester Education Action Zone for 2001-02,

    (7) Leicester Education Action Zone for 2001-02,

    (8) Nottingham Education Action Zone for 2001-02,

    (9) Southend Education Action Zone for 2001-02, and

    (10) Telford & Wrekin Education Action Zone for 2001-02,

    with the Reports of the Comptroller and Auditor General thereon [by Act]; to be printed [Nos. 303, 304, 305, 306, 312, 307, 308, 309, 310 and 311] [Clerk of the House].

APPENDIX II

Standing Committees

1    Local Government Bill,-The Committee of Selection has discharged Matthew Green and Mr Simon Thomas from Standing Committee A (nominated in respect of the Bill); and nominated in substitution Sue Doughty and Mr Paul Marsden.

2    Draft Scotland Act 1998 (Transfer of Functions to the Scottish Ministers etc.) Order 2003,-The Committee of Selection has discharged Mr Iain Luke from the Second Standing Committee on Delegated Legislation (nominated in respect of the draft Order); and nominated in substitution Jim Knight.

3    Draft Health and Personal Social Services (Quality, Improvement and Regulation) (Northern Ireland) Order 2003 and the draft Protection of Children and Vulnerable Adults (Northern Ireland) Order 2003,-The Committee of Selection has discharged Mr Alastair Carmichael from the Third Standing Committee on Delegated Legislation (nominated in respect of the draft Orders); and nominated in substitution Mr Paul Burstow.

APPENDIX III

Reports from Select Committees

    1    Education and Skills,-Minutes of Evidence taken before the Education and Skills Committee [Secondary Education: Diversity of Provision]; to be printed [No. 94-iv] [Mr Barry Sheerman].

    2    Public Accounts,-Minutes of Evidence taken before the Committee of Public Accounts [Inland Revenue Accounts 2001-02 Standard Report]; to be printed [No. 332-i] [Mr Edward Leigh].

    3    Regulatory Reform,-(1) Fifth Report from the Regulatory Reform Committee [Proposal for the Regulatory Reform (Housing Management Agreements) Order 2003], together with Appendices; to be printed, with the Minutes of Proceedings of the Committee relating to the Report [No. 328]; and

    (2) Sixth Report from the Committee [The draft Regulatory Reform (Credit Unions) Order 2003; The draft Regulatory Reform (Assured Periodic Tenancies) (Rent Increases) Order 2003], together with an Appendix; to be printed, with the Minutes of Proceedings fo the Committee relating to the Report [No. 329]

    [Mr Peter Pike].

CORRIGENDA

    In the Votes and Proceedings of Wednesday 8th January, in Appendix III, item 4, relating to the Minutes of Evidence taken before the Transport Committee [Overcrowding on Public Transport], should have had House of Commons Paper No. 201-i.

    In the Votes and Proceedings of Thursday 16th January the following item should have appeared in Appendix I, under the heading Other Papers:

    Exchange Equalisation,-Report and Accounts of the Equalisation Exchange Account for 2001-02, with the Report of the Comptroller and Auditor General thereon [by Act]; to be printed [No. 258] [Clerk of the House].



 
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